At a birthday brunch in Chelsea about twenty years ago, Jen was telling us about her two weeks at a Navy Reserves bootcamp. There were rules about how you did things. Like you couldn't speak at meals. If you needed the salt, you made a prescribed gesture –no talking, and it would passed to you. Rules like that. This wasn't a story of suffering. Some tough moments in the rain and some sleep deprivation, but nothing all that hard on you. Still, as I was listening to her story, every cell in my body tensed up against it. No way would I ever do anything like that. I was in my tower, Rapunzel-like, head-to-toe unwilling to take. one. step. outside. It came to me all at once like that. I had some idea of absolutely required minimum comfort standards dictating just how far, when and why I would go out. Apparently, I'd left them in charge, those ideas, me on autopilot, a while ago. Didn't really notice it when the door clicked shut. It just kind of happened, and now it was going to be a process to reprogram the parameters and leave the castle. I have been working on this for years.


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